Sen. Susan Collins is voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. Feminists are organizing to vote her out of office.
As this fraught confirmation process draws mercifully to a conclusion, the women’s movement is celebrating those cowed into conformity by their bullying, and targeting Collins for bucking the pressure.
And the pressure was incredible. Collins was pounded for weeks by special interest groups and powerful media actors. She was viciously threatened. Three thousand coat hangers were mailed to her Maine office. But she still bucked.
The struggle came to a head on Friday, as the senator spent forty minutes on the floor calmly and exhaustively detailing exactly why she believed it was right to confirm Kavanaugh. Collins addressed the left’s concerns point-by-point, persuasively explaining why a Justice Kavanaugh would not threaten gay marriage, the Affordable Care Act, or Roe v. Wade. She called Me Too “important,” but outlined thoughtfully why the allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh “fail to meet the more-likely-than-not standard.”
“We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy,” Collins said. It’s a pitch-perfect assessment of the moment.
For a woman accustomed to voting against her party, opposing Kavanaugh would have been easy. (Collins voted to confirm both Justice Elena Kagen and Justice Sonia Sotamayor.) Those on the right who are rankled by her centrism would still be rankled by her centrism. But Collins would have been championed enthusiastically by the left (for now, at least). She would have been backslapped by the media, framed as brave, thanked profusely by Democrats, hailed as a bipartisan hero. The comparatively tame plaudits of conservative pundits and her GOP colleagues are almost certainly less alluring than the approval of the press, Hollywood, and powerful Democrats.
Put it on paper. A female senator stood up for what she believed was right amid a historic pressure campaign from special interests and the media. It’s a decision that represents the kind of free-thinking, thick skin, and independence that empowers other women to think for themselves. But feminists don’t want women to think for themselves if those thoughts end up straying from their partisan dogma.
And their partisan dogma, in this case, insists Kavanaugh is a threat to legal abortion, and insists an uncorroborated sexual assault allegation makes him an attempted rapist. To them, there is no reasonable disagreement with either point. Thus, Collins’s bold stance in favor of Kavanaugh amounts to an unforgivable sin, rather than a moment of moral courage.
To liberal feminists, it’s understandable that Collins’s intent to vote in favor of the judge’s confirmation and swing the balance of the court is disappointing. But that disapproval is predicated on a fundamental disagreement about whether Kavanaugh constitutes a threat to women’s rights, not whether women’s rights should actually be threatened.
In a world where the movement tasked with advancing the cause of women were not inextricably intertwined with the Democratic Party, Collins strength in the face of incredible political pressure might be seen for what it was. Instead, the left is already orchestrating a campaign to replace her with a rubber stamp.